Veronica Lewis, 14, to make debut at Rhythm & Roots

Veronica Lewis, 14, to make debut at Rhythm & Roots

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CHARLESTOWN — Shake, rattle and roll people, get ready to boogie-woogie and be wowed. Veronica Lewis is coming to town and she’s bound to get your attention.

Lewis, who is all of 14 years old, will be making her debut this weekend at the 21st annual Rhythm & Roots Festival at Ninigret Park in Charlestown and intends to spread the joy by playing the blues piano — boogie-woogie style.

“Boogie-woogie is a happy style of music,” said Lewis enthusiastically. “And I’m a happy person.”

The winner of the Granite State Blues Society’s Youth Musician Award for her vibrant, lively, style of piano playing, Lewis will perform on Saturday at 1 p.m. on the Roots Stage, which is sponsored by the United Theater and Knickerbocker Music Center.

Lewis, who started playing piano when she was a 6-year-old (thanks to her mom, who also serves as her manager), lives in Haverhill, Mass., with her parents, Nancy and Charles, and attends Georgetown High School. Earlier this year, she traveled to Nesbit, Miss., to play on the piano of one of her idols — Jerry  Lee Lewis.

“I played the piano of Jerry Lee Lewis,” she said with a mixture of surprise and certainty. “And I played the song I wrote for him …. ‘Ode to Jerry Lee.’”

“He’s definitely my prime, top musician,” said Lewis, who also lists the late Katie Webster, Marcia Ball, Otis Spann and Meade Luxe Lewis as some other of her “idols.”

“Katie was definitely a pioneer for women out there,” she added.  

Webster, a boogie-woogie piano virtuoso who died in 1999 at the age of 63, was widely acknowledged as the one of the premier blues artists of her generation. 

Critics have hailed Lewis not only for her piano-playing — which has been described as having “the power of a thunderstorm in the Delta” — but for “showcasing her piano chops and vocals in the style” of her idols, Katie Webster, Marcia Ball, Otis Spann and Meade Luxe Lewis.

Lewis, who is planning her first studio album for release this year, can be seen performing in festivals throughout New England.

After winning the Granite State Blues Society's Youth Musician Award, Lewis, who divides her time between Haverhill and Keene, N.H., went on to represent New Hampshire at the annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis, where she played in a honky-tonk club on Beale Street.


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